"mano a mano": another turn on the wheel

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 27 17:52:26 UTC 2012

(a) Chapman 1986 slang dict, p.273a cites mano a mano (a hand-to-hand fight
or duel; Hemingway, bullfighting) from the NY Times, the medial _a_ having
a grave accent over it, clearly a hypergallicism.
(b) mano (hand) in Spanish is feminine gender. Lat. manus (hand; a band of
men; feminine u-stem); It., Sp. la mano; Pg. a ma~o; Fr. la main. Such
arcane joy from a grammatical quirk behind such a macho construction!
(c) If Latino Latina and Filipino Filipina, then mano-a-mano *mana-a-mana,
but the first Google hit is for the Muppets(apostrophe) rendition of
(d) Back in my SRJC, CA days 1970-71, my Spanish teacher once commented
that he would use Spanish mano in the same way as English man (slang
expletive indicating excitement or to draw attention).

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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